Friday, July 30, 2010

Auto glass company owner charged with theft in $1.5 million insurance-fraud case

A Burien, Wash. auto glass company owner has been charged with three counts of first-degree theft for a billing scheme that’s believed to have cost insurers more than $1.5 million.

Charges against Michael Alan Perkins, 43, were filed Thursday in King County Superior Court. Perkins is the owner of Autoglass Express Inc. and Premier Auto Glass, LLC., which are run out of Perkins’ Burien home. The glass shops are suspected of overbilling State Farm, Allstate and MetLife insurance companies.

An investigation by the state insurance commissioner’s office found 4,840 instances in which the company told insurers that higher-priced Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) glass had been installed, when workers were actually installing lower-cost aftermarket glass.

State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s anti-fraud Special Investigations Unit, which spent months combing through more than 10,000 records, found $1,520,234 in deceptive billing by Perkins’ companies between September 2005 and December 2009.

“We found instances in which companies paid full price for car windows that actually came from auto wrecking yards,” said Kreidler. “One company was billed more than $1,000 for a Toyota windshield that actually cost $92.”

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